November 8, 1932 ~ February 18, 2020
November 8, 1932 ~ February 18, 2020
Josephine (Jo) Elizabeth Stodalka, beloved wife of William (Bill) Harry Stodalka of Medicine Hat, Alberta was called to eternal life on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, following a brief illness.
Jo was the eldest daughter of Frank and Theresa Kambeitz. She was born on the family homestead of her maternal grandparents, George and Elizabeth Klein, northeast of Richmound, Saskatchewan on November 8, 1932. Growing up in the Dirty Thirties and being the first of nine children, she developed a work ethic and a sense of resourcefulness that remained with her throughout her life.
She attended Krupp School until 1945 when the Kambeitz family moved to Richmound where, except for her Grade 11 year at St. Angela’s Academy in Prelate, she completed her high school.
A bright,“straight A” student, she skipped a grade, which meant she was in the same class as Bill Stodalka. Childhood sweethearts, Josephine and Bill went on their first “official date” when they were Grade 10 Students in 1948. They were married on August 12, 1953 and in her words, it was “one of the happiest days of my life.” They have had a truly wonderful life, growing old together, seventy-one years in all since that first date. It was a first and true love for both of them that lasted a lifetime.
After high school, their teaching careers took them on their next leg of their life journey. Bill and Jo completed Normal School in Moose Jaw in 1951. She then taught in Kronau, Regina and Webb, Saskatchewan. They returned home to teach in Richmound, Saskatchewan in 1958.
Their family grew during these years to include four boys and a girl.
In 1967, they moved to Calgary with the family for one year so Bill could obtain his Master of Education Degree from the University of Calgary.
In 1972, the family left Richmound and moved to Maple Creek, Saskatchewan when Bill became the Director of the Maple Creek School Division.
Bill and Josephine loved to entertain. Their home was always open to their friends and their children’s friends. Jo was an excellent cook. Mealtime was important in the Stodalka household and there was always enough food for everyone. Friends, family and neighbours knew they were welcome at Jo’s table. However, they had to be ready to engage in animated and lively conversation.
Josephine was a woman of many talents. She was an excellent seamstress and gardener. She was a smart and competitive card player. She particularly loved to play bridge. An avid reader, she would regularly read into the wee hours of the night until the book was done.
She loved classical music and she had a beautiful singing voice. Jo led school and church choirs throughout her life. She played softball in her youth and she curled competitively for many years. Her Maple Creek curling team competed in the Saskatchewan Provincial Senior Women’s finals.
Bill and Jo were devoted Liberals. She was a great help to federal and provincial Liberal candidates in Saskatchewan and Alberta. She was always involved in the C.W.L. wherever she lived and served as president of the C.W.L. for many years.
In the eyes of her children, Josephine’s most important gift was being a mother. They knew and experienced her constant and unconditional love. Her temperament, her values and her unwavering belief in her children benefited them in every way. When the grandchildren came along, they, too, experienced the same love and affection.
Josephine valued education. When Bill worked at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon in the late 1980s, Josephine decided she wanted to take the university classes necessary to obtain her Bachelor of Education Degree. Her convocation ceremony in 1989 at 56 years of age was a proud moment for the entire family.
Josephine was a resilient woman. Her life, though blessed in so many ways was not without its emotional tragedies as she buried two of her children. Her second child, Susan, died shortly after her birth in 1957 and her youngest son, Paul, who was just starting his legal career in Calgary, died in a car accident in 1990 while he was going on a ski trip to Fernie, BC.
Bill and Jo moved to Medicine Hat in 1990 where Jo spent her retirement years. In the summer months, guests to Josephine’s and Bill’s house on the aptly named Iris Court always enjoyed a tour of her garden to see all her beautiful flowers.
She and Bill traveled extensively all around the world during these later years, and they particularly liked ocean cruises. Her twenty-fourth cruise was her last. She was transported by air ambulance to Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, Florida where she died on February 18, 2020.
Josephine was a woman of deep faith and she was a soft touch when it came to donating to charities. Jo donated generously to charities every month. Her favourite was Operation Smile, so fitting for a woman who devoted so much to the wellbeing and happiness of others.
Her memory is lovingly cherished by her husband, Bill, their children Tim (Leslie), John (Marilyn), Murray and Kathy (Norm Nicolet), Marcia Stodalka and Janice Stodalka. She is also survived by her 13 grandchildren: Erin (Josh Cornet), Mark (Angela Speers), Bill (Ariel Langgard), Josie (Gregg Lewis), Drew (Avery Buye), Anderson (Andrea Gould), Jacqui, Kassia (Justin Wollin), Rose, Paul, Thomas, John Mark and Luc and her five great-grandchildren so far: Paige, Seth, Allison, Samuel and Tully. Also left to cherish her memory are her sisters: Rosemarie/Sr. Teresita, Carol Sproul, Dolores Stodalka (Ken Reynolds), Audrey (Keith) Eslinger and her sister-in-law, Pamela Kambeitz; her brothers George (Jean), Jerry (Agneta) and Peter (Lynda) Sereda and all of their wonderful families. Memories of Josephine will also be treasured by her sister-in-law, Dolores McCarthy and the rest of the McCarthy clan on the West Coast. She was predeceased by her parents, Frank and Theresa Kambeitz, her brother, Ben Kambeitz, her in-laws, Jack and Alice Stodalka, her brothers-in-law, Don Stodalka and Brian McCarthy, her daughter Susan (1957) and her son Paul (1990).
Vigil Prayers will be recited at Cook Southland Funeral Chapel, 901-13th Street SW, Medicine Hat on Friday, February 28th, 2020 at 7:00 pm. A Memorial Mass honouring Josephine’s life will be celebrated at Holy Family Parish, 1451 Strachan Road SE, Medicine Hat on Saturday, February 29th at 11:00 am with Father Vijaya Bathineni celebrant. Private interment will take place at a future date.
Although Jo loved them, flowers are gratefully declined. If you wish, donations can be made in Jo’s name to Operation Smile or other charities of your choice.
She was the glue that held our family together. She will be forever missed.
Love is eternal.
Cook Southland Funeral Chapel Crematorium & Reception Facility, 901 – 13th Street S.W. Medicine Hat, Alberta T1A 4V4 Phone 403-527-6455 www.cooksouthland.com “Locally owned & directed”